CANDIA — Thirteen years after the Candia Fire Department saved his life following a car accident that destroyed part of his right hand, 18-year-old Isaiah Soucy is now serving with that same department and already saving lives himself.
Along with Fire Chief Dean Young, who was part of the crew that saved Soucy 13 years ago, the teen said it's ironic that he recently helped save the life of a fellow department member.
Soucy was the first responder on the scene in August when volunteer Candia firefighter Ryan Marion and his wife Celeste were seriously injured after the motorcycle they were on crashed when they were cut off by an oncoming motorist.
Soucy remembers that day well.
"For three minutes I was on my own, and when I responded I didn't know it was Ryan, that it was a friend of mine," he said. "I was actually coming back from an EMT class, and I got the go-ahead from Chief Young to render aid to the two of them until more help arrived."
As Young reflected on the situation, the emotion of that rescue was clear on his face.
"It's just remarkable that we would save him 13 years ago, and than he ends up saving one of us," Young said.
Marion and his wife suffered severe injuries, but they survived the wreck and are trying to recuperate.
Despite not having a thumb or pinky on his right hand, Young and fellow firefighter Bill Cormier said that Soucy has no problems handling any equipment or performing the duties of a firefighter.
"So long as he passes the qualifications, it doesn't matter ...," Cormier said.
In 2000, Soucy — then about 5 years old — was injured when the pickup truck he was in with his father was struck by a drunk driver. The truck rolled over, trapping Soucy's hand underneath, shearing much of the skin and destroying many of the veins in his right arm beneath his elbow. Soucy was freed from the truck by members of the fire department and then taken to a local hospital before being flown to Boston Children's Hospital.
Soucy had to endure 34 surgeries and lost his pinky and his thumb. Young, who controlled traffic in the aftermath of that accident, said he remembers taking care of Soucy's dog that was also in the crash and bringing it to a neighbor to care for it. Soucy smiled when he heard Young tell that story. "He was a great dog," Soucy said
The accident turned out to be a life-changing event for Soucy.
He said it gave him the drive to become a firefighter. When he was 14, Soucy began working with local firefighters through the Boy Scouts' Explorer program.
"We started to look into it, and we realized that there are a lot of firefighters who have lost body parts or have disabilities, and so long as they can finish up their qualifications and prove they can do the job, it doesn't matter," Cormier said.
Despite missing some of his fingers, Young said Soucy is already the fastest firefighter in the station at getting his suit on and ready to ride.
"Just because he can't do something like everyone else doesn't mean he can't do it, he just has to adapt, which he has done a great job of ...," Cormier said.
Soucy, who lives with his parents as he attends Lakes Region Community College to get a degree in fire science, said that by the time he graduates in two years he will be a fully qualified firefighter capable of working anywhere in the state.
"This is what I want to do, and I know it's a big commitment, but I still want to volunteer at Candia even when I get a job as a firefighter somewhere else," Soucy said.
Young said it is important for the community that someone young like Soucy wants to serve the department.
"It's a problem that a lot of small volunteer fire departments have, not having enough young people to fill the ranks. A lot of guys in our department are old ... like me and Bill, but right now we are actually very lucky that we have some young people, along with Isaiah, that are with the department," Young said.